Over the years we have seen social media apps/platforms come and go. I’m sure some of you remember things like ICQ, MSN Messenger, Myspace and even Napster. If you have never heard of those or never had a chance to use them you make me feel old. Those names are associated with some of the earliest forms of modern day social media. Social media dates back further than ICQ and MSN as you can see in this infographic of the evolution of social media.
In recent years we have seen young people leaving Facebook and heading towards Snapchat and Instagram. It is no longer considered cool to be on Facebook. Why you might ask? Well according to teenagers they don’t want to use Facebook as often because “old people” use it. Teenagers dread the day when parents add them on Facebook. Most teenagers agree that Facebook is used to keep in touch with their older relatives. I think that keeping in touch is much different than updating older relatives on their daily lives and what is happening at this very minute. That is where Instagram and Snapchat come in.
If you are unfamiliar with Snapchat check out this guide for parents and teachers to help you understand it a little more. To see what draws teenagers to Snapchat check out this interview with a 13 year old girl describing how to use Snapchat and why she likes it so much. I believe teenagers love to connect with their friends. When I was young I was constantly on the phone with my friends talking about boys, gossiping, being silly and just “hanging out”. The worst part about that was your parents picking up the other phone and maybe catching some of the conversation you didn’t want
hear. Or having to answer a call waiting, or having to say good bye because your parents needed the phone. Any chance I got though I was on the phone. When MSN came along I was often on MSN doing the same things I did while I was on the phone but the best part was I could chat with multiple people at a time. Sometimes on the phone I could connect with two friends at once by using a three-way call. The technology I used back then was different, but I was still using it to connect and share with friends. I was using it to socialize.
The difference today is that teenagers are able to connect with more people and in different ways than we were able to. They can be silly by sending Snapchats. They can share pictures and videos using Snapchat or Instagram from vacation so their friends can see how their trip is. It’s easier to share pictures and videos on the go than to come back from vacation and have to explain everything to your friends right? Like Heather said in her blog, it is about immediacy. Teenagers love the instant connections.
I mentioned earlier why kids are leaving social networks and a lot of it has to do with older people using the network that young people are leaving. It makes sense right. When I had to talk on the phone with my friends, if my mom came into my room I would stop talking. If I was in the basement talking and she came down I would take the conversation elsewhere (as long as I had a cordless phone). It’s the same reason kids are leaving social networks their parents are joining. My question is what will happen to things like Instagram and Snapchat? I am not a huge fan of Snapchat and don’t use it that often so I can’t see my Mom or Grandma using it. I have already had my Mom join Instagram and feel like my Grandma would too if I didn’t share my Instagram pictures to Facebook so she can see them. If older people continue to join Instagram will younger people start to leave it too?
I have seen a change in the way my friends use Facebook over the past few years. It is on a rare occasion that people update statuses. Some share their own videos and pictures. Most share articles or memes. I find that a lot of people use Facebook to “creep”. I have found that I use Facebook mostly to connect with my relatives and share pictures of my kids so they can keep updated on how my family is doing. I sometimes update statuses and but hardly ever update pictures of myself. My profile has been taken over by my kids. I have recently found that I am annoyed at the advertisements and was especially annoyed during the Canadian election last fall when it became a platform for people to share news articles and updates on the political parties. I joined Facebook to connect with friends and family and lately it seems it has gotten away from that.
After reading Luke’s blog and watching the #being13 documentary I do think that with the increase in social media comes the increase need to teach children about digital citizenship. We know that students will be using social media and we know that it can sometimes lead to problems so how can we prevent problems from occurring. There are some great resources available from Common Sense Media and Edutopia on teaching Digital Citizenship. We need to remember that it’s never too early to teach about Digital Citizenship but it can quickly become too late.
What do you think the future of social media looks like? Will Facebook be phased out? What will happen to Instagram and Snapchat if older people start to use it? How has your social media use changed over the years?